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July 5, 2015 Volume 16, no. 7
From an Advaita talk with Douwe Tiemersma, Gouda, September 19th, 2007
The universal opening of your own sphere
It's always about the opening of yourself on all levels, your opening on the level of consciousness, but also your opening on the level of feeling. When your consciousness is low this process of opening is dependent on conditions. You can experience this dependency for example, during a vacation in a beautiful landscape. Then everything can open, you truly become one with the landscape. But it's important to gain knowledge of these processes of opening and closing within their context, because only then does it become clear that the openness [itself] is independent of conditions and is always present.
Up to a certain point these processes are mainly mental. If you find, for example, that there is a concentration or a restriction in your attention, that there are blinders, then try looking further to see precisely what's going on with this barrier-creating concentration. From there the attention can open up. In a very literal way you can orient yourself more spaciously, so you get a more spacious horizon. Then your orientation is no longer focused on something that consciousness bumped into, but it becomes more spacious. Just try it out: focus yourself in a concentrated way on the wall, the lamp or on something you hear. From there the whole attention can suddenly open up. This literally happens. You will need to experience it very concretely, otherwise it doesn't work. Find out what it means to look at things and what it means when consciousness suddenly opens up infinitely in all directions. Through knowledge and practice the opening up of yourself becomes less dependent on conditions.
The advaita path can be very direct. This immediacy presupposes that you have a basis in which this openness is already present. When this sphere is clearly there, you don't have to do anything other than relax in it. But as long as [the recognition of] this openness is not there, apparently something needs to happen. Up to a certain point a practice is needed in order to clearly reveal it. When the mind is slow and limited, something will need to happen from consciousness in order to promote this opening. When it concerns the radical openness, this openness will have to be present so strongly that it no longer disappears. This means that there will need to be a total commitment to this openness. But be careful: it is not an orientation on something. It's just an orientation on openness. It's a kind of meditation without an object. At first just hold on to awareness of 'space', but truly, space in its purest form, total space.
Of course it's all about yourself as instinctive feeling-awareness. Awareness and feeling will need to go together. It's your instinctive feeling-awareness that opens itself infinitely in all directions: left, right, behind, before, above, below. Take a precise look. It's an ongoing investigation. What happens when this meditation continues? Then that universal infinite-dimension remains present in all directions. It is your own sphere, your own instinctive feeling-awareness. It's a universal opening of your self-being. This will need to be experienced very concretely. It's like a tactile sense that extends itself. Instinctively then, you'll experience everything with concrete sensitivity into infinity.
When you actually go along into the infinite, there is no separation any more between inner and outer. Then what happens to your center? Do you see that it is going to dissolve? The center of ego is no longer there, because that limited self-being is now unlimited self-being. This infinity is no longer infinitely far away; it's incredibly close. Everything that is not infinite will dissolve.
When this infinity is everywhere, even where that center initially was, there is nothing more to do. But that only applies to this sphere. In the initial situation of limited consciousness and limited feeling of course something will certainly need to be done. Wakefulness needs to arise, so that an opening can come there. If, at that stage, you say, "I still can't do anything for enlightenment, I'll just sit here", then what is your situation? Then there is closed-ness, narrowness, dullness. In this situation it's necessary that you wake up, otherwise nothing happens. Only when this openness presents itself in such a way so that it never disappears, then there's a release into it. That is no longer an action [of a person], it's just a letting go of everything.
Thus the meditation on openness will have to develop so that everything is at stake, your whole existence. And then you'll no longer say "I am meditating on something". That would mean there is still someone who is meditating. This someone is the starting point and all kinds of things are contained in it. When it really opens up to infinity, then doesn't everything fly away? The whole center of yourself disappears. Does it happen that way [for you]? Take a look for yourself. Does it absolutely go or does it stop somewhere?
So, when you continue, you lose yourself?
You'll see that. It's about yourself as instinctive feeling-awareness, who expands universally. Because it's universal, it's not stuck to any particular pattern. It's a little like the Big Bang. First there is a tense energy and then suddenly: the universe expanding to infinity. You can also experience it like an expanding balloon. At a certain point the balloon bursts. What happens then?
In the beginning meditation is just a little psychological trick, a technique. When you start to get serious about it, that alone already yields a lot on the psychological level. When you start with it from the situation of the I-person, then you'll notice it's joyful when more space comes. That's the basis on which it continues. Still more space arises, more joy; infinite space arises, infinite joy. That [joyful space] is no longer psychological because then it's about your own complete being. Then there is a state that is total. The psychology of the person has nothing to do with it.
(A cell phone rings)
Do you see how quickly the attention closes up again? It's about that. About these very practical things. The processes of closing and opening in it must be clear. There should be no restriction of the conscious sphere, no matter what happens. But of course, the knowledge that is required for that must prove itself in practice.